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Sprint Makes Clutch Announcement

Push to talk thumb, meet texting thumb. In an effort to appeal to Nextel loyalists interested in messaging-friendly devices, Sprint today introduced a new candybar device from Motorola for its iDEN line. Sprint announced that when the Motorola Clutch i465 hits Sprint’s sales channels this summer, it will become the first Nextel Direct Connect device to sport a full QWERTY keyboard.

Developed to satisfy the Sprint base’s growing desire for messaging-centric devices, the Clutch features IM-style texting, special texting shortcut keys and a hybrid push-to-talk technology that Sprint says works like verbal IM. In addition, the device’s group messaging functionality allows users to create groups of up to 20 people to easily send messages at the same time.

All of that functionality is packed into a hardy case built to resist the elements, a boon to texters prone digital mishaps. Clutch is certified against Military Specification 810F for its ability to beat the rigors of low pressure, extreme temperatures, dust, shock, vibration and solar radiation. No word on its ability to withstand a drop in the toilet, though.

The introduction of Clutch plays into Sprint’s strengths, namely its strong 3G network and data-centric offerings.

“They have a nice third generation footprint so their value is apparent,” says William Ho of Current Analysis. "They’re all about data."

This plays well into the direction the market is heading. According to a recent study commissioned by Sprint, the number of texters in the traditionally late-adopting 50-64 year-old range has increased by more than 50 percent since 2006. Meanwhile, folks under 30 said they were four times more likely to respond within a few minutes to a text compared to a voicemail message.